Whether you’ve been living in Bethesda MD for a long time or you’re just visiting for the weekend, it’s important to know all of the amazing things to do in the area. Bethesda is known for its eclectic mix of restaurants, extensive boutique and retail shopping, vibrant downtown, and variety of fun outdoor activities. Not only does Bethesda have so much to offer in terms of entertainment, but it offers its residents close proximity to the nation’s capital as well as a variety of transportation options.
We want to make sure that you enjoy your time in our city as much as possible — which is why we put together a list of the top 9 things to do in Bethesda MD!
#1 — ENJOY THE HEIGHTS OF CUISINE
Bethesda is a paradise for foodies. There are almost endless dining options in Bethesda, but we’ve sorted through them to find the best. If you love foods & flavors from around the world you don’t have to travel the globe to experience cultural dishes locals frequent:
- Mon Ami Gabi – Experience upscale French cuisine paired with an impressive wine collection at this elegant French bistro where you can dine under twinkling lights
- Jaleo – Renowned chef Jose Andres will transport you to Spain with his authentic, creative, and innovative tapas cuisine
- Q by Peter Chang – This is a must-visit for modern Szechuan cuisine. Peter Chang is an award-winning chef who trained in China and worked as the chef at the Chinese Embassy in DC before starting his own highly acclaimed restaurants B
Brunch has a way of bringing everyone together:
Barrel and Crow – Rated as the ‘Best Brunch Spot in Bethesda’ on Yelp, their extensive menu offers a variety of delicious Southern-inspired dishes
True Food Kitchen – Offering a creative seasonal menu focused on nutritious ingredients, this menu has plenty of tasty options for those who are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free
Founding Farmers – A local favorite for its classic American dishes, their menu items are made from scratch using locally-sourced and fresh ingredients Catch up with family and friends over breakfast at these creative and tasty brunch spots in Bethesda.
Bethesda is a hot spot for happy hour any day of the week:
Caddies on Cordell – Golf-themed sports bar & patio offering popular happy-hour specials plus lots of TVs for game day.
Gringos & Mariachis – For tasty street tacos, creative margaritas, and more, stop by this special happy hour every Monday – Friday from 4pm – 6:30pm
#2 — TAKE WALK IN ONE OF THE MANY PARKS
Rock Creek Park, Chevy Chase Maryland’s wild wooded neighbor is nature’s jewel in the heart of Washington, DC that offers a refuge from the city for millions of visitors each year. Twice the size of New York’s Central Park, Rock Creek Park was the third National Park created by Congress, preceded only by Yellowstone and Sequoia.
This 1,754-acre city park offers visitors the opportunity to escape the bustle of the city and find a peaceful refuge, recreation, fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and thousands of years of human history.
Cabin John Regional Park offers something for every sports lover and is situated just minutes north of Washington. Recreational options include summer ball games on the various athletic fields, tennis on both indoor and lighted outdoor courts, Tai Chi, and even ice skating in the summer at the fully enclosed Cabin John Ice Rink.
Visitors can also connect with nature through a variety of environmental nature programs, become entranced by a ride on the model train, or spend the afternoon relaxing with family and friends at various picnic and playground areas. One of the special attractions for children is the Adventure Playground. Don’t miss the totem pole!
If an afternoon isn’t enough, spend the night enjoying the natural beauty of the park at one of seven walk-in campgrounds. And with over five miles of hiking and biking trails, there is plenty of scenery to explore.
Picnickers have a variety of opportunities at Cabin John.
Kenwood Cherry Blossom – In the early 1930s and 1940s, a local developer planted cherry trees as a way to promote the neighborhood to potential home buyers. Now, over 1,200 trees grace the neighborhood bearing hundreds of thousands of beautiful tiny white flowers that bloom during the spring season.
Kenwood is a suburban neighborhood located close to the Washington, DC line, and is considered part of Bethesda and Chevy Chase. The best cherry blossom viewing can be found along Kennedy Drive, Dorset Avenue and Kenwood Avenue.
According to an article in Bethesda Magazine, the cherry blossoms in Kenwood typically reach their peak three to four days after the trees in The Nation’s Capital. The National Park Service offers a “Bloom Watch” page that provides regular updates on when the trees along Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin will reach their peak.
#3 — HAIL TO THE REDSKINS
No fan base is more diehard than the Washington Redskins fan base. Until recently there was a waiting list for season tickets. Their stadium is located on the beltway a short distance from Chevy Chase. These games are fun for the entire family. Tailgating for Redskins games are some of our fondest memories as kids.
#4 — TAKE IN A SHOW & ENJOY THE ART
If you are entertained by unique theatrical experiences, then you’ll find no shortage of fun in Bethesda. Round House Theatre, in downtown Bethesda, is one of the leading professional theaters in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, producing a full season of modern classics, new plays and musicals for more than 55,000 patrons each year at a 400-seat theater in Bethesda, Maryland. Round House has been nominated for 181 Helen Hayes Awards (including 22 in 2018) and has won 39 (including five in 2018). Its productions have won “Outstanding Resident Play” four times. Round House has also been honored for four consecutive years with the 50/50 Applause Award from the International Center for Women Playwrights.
Round House’s educational programs serve more than 3,000 students of all ages at its six-classroom Education Center in Silver Spring and in schools throughout Montgomery County. Its many innovative education programs encompass classes for adults and youth, full day programs and summer programs for grades K–12; a teen performance company culminating in the Sarah Metzger Memorial Play, the only play produced by a regional theater that is directed, acted and designed by high school students; school outreach, including school residencies, student matinees, and Free Play, a program that allows teenagers and college students to attend Round House shows for free.
Strathmore is an arts center that showcases a diverse variety of visual and performing arts and offers educational programs for both kids and adults. At the center, you can check out free art exhibitions, catch a comedy show or musical performance in the state-of-the-art concert hall, or take a stroll to the Strathmore Mansion for smaller performances.
#5 — WORK OUT IN A UNIQUE WAY
Bethesda love fitness. Although the Chevy Chase/Bethesda community has plenty of traditional gyms and workout facilities, it is also home to a ton of unique fitness startups that will take your routine to a new level.
One of the iconic fitness options is F45, a unique gym in Bethesda. F45 is specifically designed to provide a functional full-body workout while improving energy levels, metabolic rate, strength, and endurance.he team mentality at F45 Training helps members transform their lifestyle physically and mentally while encouraging community growth and a no-ego attitude. F45 is one of the most time-efficient ways of training. We aim to burn up to 750 calories per 45-minute session.
Another of Bethesda’s hottest fitness centers is Bethesda Boxing & Kickboxing
Bethesda Boxing brings the strength-building and fat-burning power of boxing to a safer, beginner-friendly environment — so you can meet your fitness goals while taking out some stress on the heavy bag!
#6 — PARTAKE IN WORLD-CLASS SHOPPING
If You Love Shopping Bethesda is one of the best places for upscale shopping in the DC area.
Bethesda Row is located at the intersection of Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road in Bethesda, Maryland. This bustling downtown district is highly-walkable and offers easy access to Washington, DC via the Red Line Metro System.
The property includes Giant, sweetgreen, lululemon, Raku, Sassanova, Morley, Mon Ami Gabi, Kapnos Kouzina, The Apple Store, Aveda, Drybar, Equinox, Bluemercury, Warby Parker, Jaleo, Landmark Theatre, Uncle Julio’s, Williams-Sonoma, Urban Country, and Anthropologie & Co., among many others, as well as office and a residential community, Upstairs at Bethesda Row.
Westfield Montgomery Mall is a constantly evolving, high-end shopping center, featuring stores like Nordstrom, Aldo, Sephora, Banana Republic, and Under Armour. Not only are there tons of stores for everyone in the family, but the center also includes ArcLight Cinemas, Lucky Strike bowling alley and gastropub, and dozens of dining options. Take a stroll through Downtown Bethesda and you’ll pass tons of specialty boutiques as well as brand name stores like lululemon, Kate Spade, Anthropologie, and Jos. A Bank. You can also find salons, home goods stores, and jewelers. Walk under festive lights as you shop on Bethesda Lane, a popular street filled with unique boutiques and dining.
Pike and Rose is a relatively new development that has become a lifestyle destination for locals. Shopping includes stores like H&M, Sur la table, Lucky Brand, and Nike Factory Store. While you’re there you can grab a bite to eat at City Perch Kitchen + Bar, &pizza, Summer House Santa Monica, or one of the other popular restaurants. Pike and Rose also includes attractions such as The Beach in the summer, a winter wonderland in the park, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and AMP, a music and entertainment center.
The Shops at Wildwood are a mix of upscale shopping, boutiques, and casual dining. Check out stores like bluemercury, South Moon Under, and Coco Blanca or dine at Wildwood Kitchen, Fish Taco, or Le Pain Quotidien. Bethesda shopping options are seemingly endless—you can find everything you want at one of the nearby trendy shopping areas
#7 — BREATHE IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Here are some of the best places to get outdoors in Bethesda:
The Capital Crescent Trail (scheduled to reopen in 2020) is one of the most popular trails in Montgomery County, stretching from Georgetown, D.C. to Silver Spring, MD. Passing right through downtown Bethesda, the trail is frequented by bikers, walkers, joggers, and rollerbladers of all ages. You can even stop for a quick bite or to shop in Bethesda or Georgetown along the way. V
Visit Cabin John Regional Park for over 6 miles of hiking and biking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and playgrounds. Cabin John offers a wide variety of activities like educational nature programs, recreational sports, and skating at the Cabin John Ice Rink. The park offers residents a unique oasis in the form of a natural refuge within an urban city. Residents get a nice break from the urban bustling city feel and can stay active at these popular outdoor areas.
#8 — SEE THE NATION’S GREAT MEMORIALS
One of the most convenient aspects of being in Bethesda (or of living in Bethesda or other nearby cities, for that matter) is the close proximity to the most amazing sights of the DC area. Residents and visitors can easily head into the District to take in all that the National Mall has to offer — but there are plenty of memorials to visit in Arlington itself!
Pay your respects to the nation’s fallen service members at Arlington National Cemetery, visit the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial — which depicts the famous image of Marines triumphantly hoisting a flag over the island of Iwo Jima — or go to the beautiful Memorial for Women in America’s Military Services.
#9 – ENJOY LOCAL EVENTS
Being the lively urban area that it is, Bethesda has a ton of seasonal local events and attractions to check out:
One very popular food and music festival is Taste of Bethesda. Held annually in October, it features approximately 60 different restaurants from the area as well as several artists and a kid’s corner. You’ll get a taste of some of the diverse restaurants in Bethesda while enjoying live music and cultural performances.
Restaurant Week is held in the D.C. area twice annually: in January and August. Some of the area’s most popular (and priciest) restaurants create multi-course prix fixe menus for under $40, making this one of the busiest dining weeks of the year. Make sure to book your reservations early!
Right on Wisconsin Avenue, you’ll find the historic and unique Bethesda Farm Women’s Market, which has been a community staple since 1932. There, you’ll find fresh produce, drinks, artisanal goods, and boutique items from a variety of vendors. You can stop by for a quick bite to eat at the food trucks, for tastings courtesy of local vineyards and breweries, or to shop at the outdoor Flea Market on Sundays.
There is no shortage of fun events and attractions in Bethesda. You can check out other can’t-miss annual events like the film fest, summer concert series, outdoor movies, and more